Looking at the numbers, Ashleigh Ainsely, Co-founder of Colorintech, highlights the scale of the challenge facing the industry in ensuring a more diverse workforce at all levels. As he demonstrates, greater diversity is fundamental to the future success of financial services, both in terms of securing the talent pipeline and creating products and services that best serve all economic citizens. We look forward to hearing more from Ashleigh and his co-panellists on this topic at FinTECHTalents.
We talk a lot a about a shortage of digital skills. Can you give us a sense of where you see some real Gaps?
There are gaps at all parts of the pipeline. Colorintech exists, as an organisation, to address those gaps.
To offer some statistics to reinforce that assertion, our recent FTSE study looked at the board of the tech companies in the UK. The research found that 2.6% of those board members were from ethnic minority backgrounds compared to 14% which comprise the UK population.
The lack of available data throughout the UK tech industry hampers our ability to quantify it at middle management levels. However, in other developed markets, we see organisation such as Google reporting In terms of race and ethnicity (U.S. data only): 2.5% of Google’s workforce is Black and 3.6% is Hispanic/Latino, an increase of only 0.1 percentage point (ppt) for each of these groups over the previous year.
Given the picture is not markedly better when split between leadership and the entire organisation, we believe this points to a lack of diversity throughout the industry, which can hamper creativity, financial return and company culture. Given the future will be built by teams developing products to serve consumer needs, a lack of diversity is a huge threat to the equitable development of the ecosystem.
Clearly there is a need to get more young people interested in careers in tech. What are some of the ways in which we can inspire the next generation?
We need to immerse students in the power of tech. Gaps between the genders start to emerge in secondary school with the socialisation that careers in STEM are not for women, minorities, or frankly anyone who isn’t a white (or Asian) straight male. Immersing women and ethnic minorities in the rich tapestry of what can be achieved, learnt and experienced through a career in tech is one powerful way to make a difference. This involves bringing innovation and tech to young people and also taking them directly to where this technology is developed.
Both the tech and financial services sectors have had less than stellar results in terms of diversity and this, perhaps not surprisingly, has been replicated across the fintech sector. As we will be discussing at FinTECHTalents, do you have some thoughts as to how to move from aspiration to action?
Firstly, firms really have to put their money where their mouths are. Instituting change is near impossible without the capital and support. That doesn’t mean throwing cash at meaningless initiatives, but rather empowering individuals to form partnerships with companies who enable them to extend their reach, detoxify brand images, and bring diversity through the door. Meaningful support involves empowering resource groups to support causes with time and money that further their causes externally. It also allows for room for growth and experimentation within organisations too.
Tell us a bit about your own journey in the tech sector and the purpose behind Colorintech.
Colorintech was formed out of a frustration with the lack of diversity in the technology sector. We wanted to be more than an advocacy platform for ethnic minorities. We wanted to run initiatives and programs to make a difference and institute change.
We currently live in a society today where women make up just 26% of boards of top tech companies, ethnic minorities 2.6%, despite them representing 51%, and 14% of the population respectively. We believe the future of tech will be a collaboration of people from different backgrounds, experiences, gender, races and perspectives building products that serve everyone.
To succeed, the industry needs to think differently and also look a lot different than it does today We’re on a mission to disrupt the past and help the underrepresented become aware, create access to skills and opportunities and develop a network of likeminded individuals. Ultimately, we are working towards making Europe the most transparent and inclusive tech hub in the world.
Where are we most likely to find you at the Festival – Craft Beer sessions or the Live Music Stage?
We love to chat with all players in the ecosystem so you’re likely so see us floating around the main venue and trying to meet as many people as possible.
And finally, we are busy compiling the FinTECHTalents playlist, what song would you like to add?
Haha, we love – Bob Marley feat. LVNDSCAPE & Bolier – Is This Love as a great Remix on a fantastic classic